AT&T sheds fewer-than-expected customers amid mobile price war

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AT&T lost fewer customers than expected in the first quarter as the largest US telecoms company by market capitalisation battled for customers in a hotly competitive US mobile market.

AT&T lost 191,000 postpaid wireless subscribers, viewed as the most lucrative mobile customers. It was better than the 250,000 loss that analysts predicted amid a price war that has broken out among the “big four” US mobile providers in the quarter.

For the same period, Verizon said it lost 307,000 postpaid customers while T-Mobile US added 798,000 such subscribers.

The Dallas-based company posted earnings per share of 74 cents for the quarter, in line with analyst forecasts, while revenues of $39.4bn fell short of projections of $40.5bn.

Wall Street analysts had trimmed expectations for AT&T earnings, from about 77 cents to 74 cents a share, fearing that a price war would eat into first-quarter profits. AT&T in February expanded its unlimited data offering, following a move by rival Verizon, the largest US mobile carrier, as they tried to stop customers from defecting to T-Mobile, the industry disrupter.

AT&T is betting on a proposed $84bn purchase of Time Warner as it looks to reinvent itself into a media and entertainment company, diversifying from the maturing wireless space as customers flock to T-Mobile’s promotions.

Shares in AT&T rose 1 per cent in after hours trading.

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